Mike Moon: The weather messed with Saturday’s fixture at the Turffontein Inside track, with a typical Highveld thunderstorm causing the closing three races to be abandoned.
That storm moved off, but it looks like there’s heavy weather ahead for the country’s racehorse trainers – thanks to Sean Tarry’s gale-force return to top form.
On Saturday, Tarry saddled the winners of three of the six races that were run, including the headline contest. That made it 10 wins in eight days for the national champion.
The Tarry bounce-back after a lean few months will dismay rival trainers as he and his powerhouse string are capable of carrying off much of the loot in what remains of the Highveld autumn season – and in the KwaZulu-Natal season ahead.
Saturday’s meeting honoured the memory of the 24 people who died in the Hennenman aircraft disaster 30 years ago – a tragedy that wiped out much of a generation of talented young jockeys.
A sunny day was transformed as black clouds loomed up before Race 5 and the Big T got drenched. The programme was delayed an hour, resumed briefly for two races, and was then called off due to slippery going.
Mercifully those two races were quite a highlight.
First, filly Return Flight (18-10) put on a show as she and Lyle Hewitson raced to victory a cool 11.25 lengths ahead of Long Pond (17-10 favourite) in a 1450m maiden juvenile contest.
Before the race, trainer Sean Tarry described Return Flight – a daughter of his erstwhile stable star and Durban July winner Pomodoro – as “a very nice filly”. Too right.
It was Tarry’s second visit to the winner’s circle on the day, the first having come after Three Stars, a 5-2 favourite, was guided home by S’manga Khumalo in Race 2.
It was Khumalo’s turn again in Race 6 – the 30 Year Anniversary Hennenman Memorial Progress Plate over 1600m. The former champion has a penchant for flying finishes and he delivered a vintage one on board Matador Man.
Starting at 3-1, Matador Man made his usual slow exit from the stalls, but this time only lost a length to the rest of the field. Khumalo fell in behind the other eight runners and bided his time.
Tarry’s other runner in the race, Warrior’s Rest (5-1) under Hewitson made the pace, with Matador Man eight lengths back at halfway.
In the shake-up, Matador Man stormed up the middle-outside to win going away by 0.60 lengths from Glider Pilot (6-1) and Shukamisa (13-1). Ghost Town (7-2 favourite) finished fourth, but sadly broke down immediately after crossing the finishing line.